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Global Roundup: India’s First Trans Parents, Women-Only Buses in Karachi, South African Fashion Designer, UK’s First Sexual Abuse Helpline, Hong Kong Trans Rights
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Ziya Paval and Zahhad happily announced their due date on social media. (Instagram). Photo via Pink News.
History is being made in Kerala, India as trans couple Ziya Paval and Zahhad await the arrival of their first child, making them the first trans parents ever in India. Zahhad, a trans man, is currently eight months pregnant, said Ziya, a trans woman and dancer.. This marks the first recorded pregnancy in a trans man in India.
Zahhad and Ziya have been together for around three years, but shortly after meeting, they both halted hormone therapy in the hopes that they would get pregnant. After the pregnancy, they confirmed that they would continue to transition.
When we started to live together three years ago, we thought our lives should be different from transgenders…Most transgender couples are boycotted by society as well as their families. We wanted a baby, so that we leave behind something of ourselves. – Ziya Paval
Both parents always desired to have a child, and though this was a decision born out of love, it was also born out of the desire to show the trans community that natural parenthood is still possible in some ways. Many trans couples in India are not aware of their options, while many fear the associated stigma.
There may be many trans men or trans women who wish to become parents like us, but they do not have the courage to step ahead fearing humiliation and rejection…Initially, we thought of going for adoption, but when we tried to learn details of the process, we knew about the legal complexities. – Ziya Paval
As same-sex marriage is not currently legal in India, the adoption process is almost impossible for queer and trans couples. And while natural parenthood might be an option for some, it is not always an option for everyone.
Buses wait at Frere Hall in Karachi following the inauguration ceremony on 1 February. Photograph: Avalon/The Guardian.
Accessing safe and reliable public transportation, especially at night, is extremely difficult for women in Pakistan. Many women have discussed the need to always be on alert on public transport as men are known to sexually harass and assault women, typically on buses. A new initiative in Karachi attempts to protect women who use public transportation.
Last week, pink buses were added to Karachi’s public transportation fleet; these buses are dedicated entirely to women who use public transport and are operated by women to ensure all riders feel safe, especially at night. This is Pakistan’s second attempt at protecting women on public transport after the government pulled its funding from another project in 2012.
Pakistan’s buses have always had women-only sections, however this form of segregation has never stopped the unwanted attention or assault. The pink buses might open up the doors for many women who have been unable to work due to lack of affordable and safe transportation and ongoing harassment. Relying on taxis to get to and from work can become tiring and expensive.
Our working hours start later in the day, from 3pm and up to midnight. Many young women who want to join this line of work are deterred by the timing as they know they will not get reliable transport home at night. But if these pink buses can provide that safety, many women will come out of their homes and work. – Arooj Abbasi, pink bus user
The project is still in its first week of operation, but it seems to have already been quite successful for women users across Karachi.
Thando Ntuli, creative director and founder, Munkus. Source: SA Fashion Week. Photo via Biz Community.
Thando Ntuli is a fashion designer from South Africa who created the contemporary fashion brand, Munkus. She launched the brand in 2019 with the goal of amplifying the voices of everyday women through craftsmanship. Ntuli’s designs tell stories through the use of bold colours and prints…
Ntuli advocates for homegrown creativity, as well as advancing local and equitable production. She believes in the power of young people and wants to empower young designers specifically. Ntuli posts videos (ex. sewing tips, advice on creating a clothing brand) on her Youtube channel to help aspiring designers.
Munkus, the brand she created, is based on closing the generational gap between women. Ntuli wanted to create clothing that could be handed down through generations of women and also be styled by women of all ages.
My goal was to help women find themselves in the pieces I have made…by giving them an extension of their personality or the persona they want to have for that day, the collection is rich in colour and loud in print. A collection to face the world with just the right confidence. – Thando Ntuli
Munkus AW 23 - Umama Wami. Source: SA Fashion Week. Photo via Biz Community.
The collection that she created is a tribute to her mother and all the roles she played in Ntuli’s life: nurturer, healer, giver, fighter, leader. These five pillars shaped Ntuli’s life, and inspired her to create a collection which would appreciate every role that a woman plays. She hopes to carry these values forward in her work and her life, and continue inspiring young people in South Africa.
This collection speaks to the heart of mothers, not just my own, but also those of South Africa, who wear multiple hats to keep their families together and still maintain their individuality. I was inspired by the resilience and strength of South African women, who have faced adversity in every aspect of society, and sought to create a symbol of their fight to be seen, understood and valued. The prints are visual representations of my mother and pay homage to her journey and those of South African mothers alike. – Thando Ntuli
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Women hold placards at the Million Women Rise march in London ahead of International Women's Day on March 05, 2022. © 2022/ NurPhoto via AP/WIktor Szymanowicz. Photo via Human Rights Watch.
The UK’s leading organization fighting anti-LGBTQ+ abuse, Galop, has just launched the nation’s first rape and sexual abuse helpline which will be dedicated to supporting and listening to queer people who have been affected by sexual violence and abuse.
We want LGBT+ victims and survivors to know that we’re here, we understand what you’re going through and help is available. Any LGBT+ survivor calling us can be confident that their call will be answered by a fellow LGBT+ person, who is trained and experienced in working with survivors of abuse and violence. Our community has gone too long without this kind of nationally available support – that changes today. – Leni Morris, CEO of Galop
It has been reported that more than half of the LGBTQ+ population in the UK have been subjected to some form of sexual violence. When trying to seek support from sexual violence support services, many queer people had bad experiences and found that the support was not tailored to the LGBTQ+ community.
When you’ve been through something as traumatic as sexual violence, the help you receive should be centered not only around understanding what you’ve been through, but also a knowledge and compassion for your identity and all the aspects of yourself that make you who you are. – Lord Cashman OBE, LGBTQ+ rights activist and member of parliament
Galop’s newest initiative will ensure that queer people are receiving adequate and respectful care when reporting instances of sexual violence. The helpline and all the associated information can be accessed here.
Transgender activist Henry Edward Tse holding a sign written 'Legal Victory' and a flag of transgender identity poses for a photograph outside of Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan). Photo via CTV News.
Hong Kong’s top court just ruled it unconstitutional to bar trans people from changing their gender on legal ID without undergoing full sex reassignment surgery. On Monday, the Court of Final Appeal unanimously sided with the appeal launched by trans activists Henry Tse and Q, whose applications to change their gender on their Hong Kong Identity Cards were denied.
The policy’s consequence is to place persons like the appellants in the dilemma of having to choose whether to suffer regular violations of their privacy rights or to undergo highly invasive and medically unnecessary surgery, infringing their right to bodily integrity…Clearly this does not reflect a reasonable balance. The Policy imposes an unacceptably harsh burden on the individuals concerned. – Court of Final Appeal judgement
Although Tse and Q had already undergone extensive medical, surgical, and hormonal treatments, the registrar still required they undergo a full sex reassignment surgery. It was at this point when they argued that this was unnecessary, which led to the start of this appeal.
This landmark ruling is a big win for the queer community in Hong Kong, who has struggled for equality despite same-sex marriage being legal in the region. Although this ruling will likely have large-scale positive impacts for the trans community, this ruling is only one step of many in the battle for true equality for trans people in Hong Kong.
Today’s result is delayed justice, a Pyrrhic victory. This very case should never have happened…I will continue to work hard to plant the seeds for the transgender rights movement with my partners at Transgender Equality Hong Kong. I believe that one day, we shall succeed and welcome the rainbow with open arms. – Henry Tse
Inaara Merani (she/her) recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Western Ontario, studying Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a specialization in Transitional Justice. In the upcoming years, she hopes to attend law school, focusing her career in human rights law.
Inaara is deeply passionate about dismantling patriarchal institutions to ensure women and other marginalized populations have safe and equal access to their rights. She believes in the power of knowledge and learning from others, and hopes to continue to learn from others throughout her career.